Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
It was combat. Faces were tense with the unnerving desperation of wavering hope.
Soldiers strapped to their guns, pinned down to a “safe” place laced with mines, had been holding their precarious position for five months. Over one hundred of their teammates, comrades, and friends had been carried off and buried. There was no time for grief. No room for sentiment.
Who would be next, no one knew.
From the outside, it appeared that order and discipline in the form of rank and file remained intact. A lieutenant was in charge now, having assumed the role after the captain and commander were killed.
However, tempers flared. Brave chatter had morphed into a single thought. Hold.
Hold out, hang in there, stay the course, keep yourself together, don’t think too much, don’t lose focus, push away the emotions, calm your nerves… hold. Above all, remember those who die are heroes. Your sacrifice is secondary to the mission.
The above scene is merely my humble description of a sci-fi television portrayal of war.* In reality, men, women, and children fight battles against trauma every day. Soldiers who stood their ground in actual wars, victims of abuse and torture for other people’s sexual pleasure, witnesses to accidents and violent crimes – all these and more have survived literal and figurative foxholes.
Well after one has escaped, and is living, breathing, and responding to outward freedom, unresolved trauma pins down the mind. Relief is incomplete. Night tremors, jumpiness, nightmares, unrelenting memory tapes, hypervigilant distrust, depression, rage, a sense of being different from everyone else, and loss of innocence are parts of an ongoing struggle for survival. Often, despite abject aloneness, there is still a single thought.
It is in my foxhole of PTSD and major depression that I find it impossible to be atheistic.
I held my position for decades, trying to avoid feeling too much. This means of survival wore me out until I was looking at the walls of a psychiatric ward, more alone than thought possible. Stigma would tell you weakness and lack of discipline were the problem. Truth is, my mind held out long beyond what it was meant to take. I broke.
Does that mean my faith is a crutch? No, I’ve used emotional crutches. Compulsive eating, running up debt, escapism, over-dependence on other people, self-punishment, religiosity – all were destructive and added to my pain.
Jesus is my source, not a temporary support. Reliance on his unfailing love is foundational to my spiritual freedom. Refusal to surrender to him pinned me to philosophical imaginations of religion which save no one. When I finally gave up clinging to false promises and stopped trying to hide from him, his love shone through.
I know who allows me rest from striving. While learning to heal from trauma, his words are rich with calm. “Peace, be still.”
Because of him, I can release my hold, and just be held.
Today’s Helpful Word : Mark 4:39 ESV
“And [Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Today’s Helpful Word
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
1st picture from rgbstock.com
2nd from kozzi.com
*Deep Space Nine, one of the Star Trek television series